Experimental Project Serves as a Model to Solve Housing Shortages.
BIG ISLAND, HI—Solving a major housing problem for Hawaii, MVE Pacific and UniDev Hawaii are embarking on a major community and housing development to serve the growing workforce of Hawaii’s Big Island. Kamakoa at Waikoloa—a 275-acre, 1,200-unit workforce housing development on the Kona side of the Island—broke ground December 29, 2007. The first buildings are expected to be complete in 2009. Honolulu-based MVE Pacific is a full-service architecture, interiors and planning firm that has created significant housing, commercial, resort, retail, mixed-use and hospitality projects in Hawaii for the past 20+ years.
“The goal of Kamakoa at Waikoloa is to provide market-quality homes at prices affordable for working people, some who currently must travel upward of two hours to reach their workplaces or settle in tents on nearby beaches to avoid such commutes,” says Ernesto M. Vasquez, AIA, president and CEO of MVE Pacific. “Kamakoa is about creating a community that sustains itself both ecologically and socially.” A diversity of housing types, along with planned school, community center, parks and recreation facilities, strengthens the new community and contributes to solving the severe housing shortage seen throughout Hawaii. The residences will be Energy-Star qualified and will incorporate sustainable planning and design principles while maintaining affordability.
Kamakoa is the first community developed within the state of Hawaii that integrates Community Facilities District (CFD) taxes to fund infrastructure development, while offering innovative private mortgage financing packages and rental programs for residents. Built on land donated by the County of Hawaii for this purpose, Kamakoa at Waikoloa will be seen as a model for solving affordable housing shortages on the other islands. “The team crafted new planning and design criteria that were approved by the County Council so we could move forward with this experimental project,” explains Jeffrey Minter, CEO of UniDev Hawaii. “Each island county is waiting for Kamakoa to be successful.”
The community design creatively implements a planned development modeled after neo-traditional town concepts. Elements, such as neighborhood pocket parks, tree-lined sidewalks, natural multi-use trails, textured motor courts, courtyards, garden nodes and landscaped destination points, are designed to support a walkable environment for residents and guests. From this planning foundation, a distinctive new neighborhood identity will be established and maintained.
Architecturally, homes and community buildings will maintain the Hawaiian vernacular, including spacious lanais for indoor/outdoor living, climatically appropriate materials and natural ventilation. “Kamakoa at Waikoloa is about Hawaiian lifestyle,” stresses Vasquez. “Kamakoa is about families.”
Both rental and for-sale units will be created. One- and two-bedroom family units are offered at rents that are 20% below area market rates, so residents are able to save with the intention of graduating to for-sale products. Single-room occupancy units comprise three or four bedrooms and are appealing to resort workers who are transient or seasonal, or to workers who live on one side of the island and work on the other. Detached, for-sale homes include 958- to 1,320-square-foot bungalows affordable for those earning less than 120% of the average median income. Single-family homes that are the premium housing product of the community range from 1,110- to 1,365 square feet, and are available with numerous finish options.
“Careful design of the structural components within the home, as well as the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, greatly contributes to the longevity and maintainability of the residence,” notes MVE Pacific’s Vasquez . To this end, all of the new housing and community buildings for Kamakoa at Waikoloa strive to provide a total residential construction system that stands up to the particular conditions of the regional environment.
For all dwellings, design and configuration, along with building mechanics of plumbing, ventilation and electrical, are specified toward efficiency of resources. “The quality of housing is not just measured in its appearance,” stresses UniDev’s Minter, “but is also reflected in the quality of materials and methods of construction that are largely unseen.” Plumbing systems are designed to minimize piping and venting and curb energy and water consumption. In addition, solar water heating systems with electric backups are provided for enhanced energy efficiency. Lighting fixtures are strategically placed for maximum effect, efficiency, and comfort for residents. For interior climate control, ceiling fans are provided and secondary windows are maximized to allow for natural cooling considering the local trade winds.
In addition to architect/planner MVE Pacific and development manager UniDev Hawaii, the project team includes Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, general contractor; Isemoto Contracting, grading and infrastructure contractor; PBR Hawaii, land planner/landscape architect; Sam O. Hirota Engineers and Surveyors, civil engineers; Mechanical Enterprises, mechanical/plumbing engineers; Baldridge & Associates, structural engineers; Ronald Ho & Associates, electrical engineers; Fewell Geotechnical Engineering, geotechnical engineers; and Townscape, project oversight.
MVE Pacific has been working in the State of Hawaii since 1984, providing residential, hospitality, retail, mixed-use, commercial and resort planning and design services. MVE Pacific is an affiliate firm of MVE & Partners, a national architecture, planning and interiors firm with a portfolio spanning more than 30 years. The Honolulu office of MVE Pacific, which opened in 2006, builds on the diverse and deep experience and expertise of MVE & Partners, applying them to the unique conditions of Hawaii. Projects include master plan for the Pineapple Hills Estates at Kapalua, the Hualalai Resort in North Kona, the Peninsula at Hawaii Kai, the Franciscan Vistas for the St. Francis Development Corporation, as well as Luxetown Development Residential Community in Chengdu, China. While design diversity is the cornerstone of the firm, the defining approach is the creation of meaningful, attractive environments that enhance community and quality of life.